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At Home After Your Shoulder Surgery


How long your recovery will take depends on your personal goals, your general physical condition, and the nature of your shoulder surgery. Many patients experience "ups and downs" during recovery, so don’t be discouraged if this happens. The most critical period is the first few days and weeks as you move toward resuming your goals. You will be guided by your physician and your therapist. On your first follow-up visit, you may receive new and/or additional instructions.

Medications: Take as prescribed.

  • DO NOT drink alcoholic beverages or take street drugs when taking pain medications.
  • Take pain medication as it is due and as prescribed.
  • DO NOT drive a car or operate heavy machinery when taking pain medications.

Common post-operative reactions

As you might expect, your body will react to shoulder surgery in one or more ways. These are typical:

  • Low grade fever (100.5° F) for a week
  • Small amount of blood or fluid leaking from the surgical site
  • Bruising along shoulder, upper arm, chest, even to your elbow
  • Low grade fever (100.5° F) for a week
  • Swelling of the shoulder and upper arm
  • Mild numbness close to the surgical site for 6-9 months

Please accept these reactions as normal, but be ready to call your physician if any of the items below occurs or if you are concerned.

When to call your physician

  • Fever of 101° F persists after one week or is higher during the first week
  • Progressively increasing pain (Pain normally should steadily decrease)
  • Excessive bleeding or fluid coming from surgical site
  • Increased swelling and redness to the shoulder region
  • Persistent nausea and vomiting
  • Decreased sensation in the arm on the same side as surgery
  • Persistent headache
  • Your anesthesia injection site is inflamed (reddened, swollen, oozes blood or fluid)

If you are unable to reach your physician and the symptoms persist, please go to the nearest hospital emergency room, and contact your physician afterwards.